"A White Kitchen is Timeless"

Interview with Waterworks Founder Barbara Sallick

Of late, numerous articles and blog posts have bemoaned the pervasiveness of the white kitchen, heralding its impending fall from grace as darker and more colorful kitchens gain popularity. But, wait. White kitchens are trendy? I always assumed a basic white kitchen was a classic and timeless choice, not a trendy one. Happily, the wonderful Barbara Sallick, Founder of Waterworks and true visionary of design, seems to agree with me. "A white kitchen is timeless," she said during our phone interview last week.
Since before she launched Waterworks back in the 1970s, Barbara has loved white kitchens and bathrooms. “I think of white as a color and I adore white in all of many ramifications and shades and palettes,” she explains. “If you think of white as a color you start to feel a little different about how, why and where you use it. White is like a chameleon". While she admits that white kitchens are hot at the moment and are not suitable for every home, she doesn't consider them "trendy". “A white kitchen can be sterile and modern or warm and soft; it can be casual or formal. You can make a white kitchen anything you want. With a faux Tuscan kitchen, on the other hand, you are stuck in one style.

As for me, I love white kitchens. Maybe it is because I have always had white kitchens (even in the 70s, when my parents were frowned upon for getting white slab cabinets, white laminate countertops and white appliances). Maybe white kitchens are just my thing. Or maybe I am more influenced by trends than I think I am? Maybe I am just another cog in the big wheel of the collective aesthetic unconscious, integrating popular styles into my own evolving taste without realizing it. Maybe it's only possible to know you are part of a trend in retrospect. Or maybe it doesn't matter. Perhaps all that matters is that you design a kitchen to fit your unique aesthetics and lifestyle. As long as the design is solid and the details well executed, your kitchen will make you happy.

That said, I still stand by my love of white kitchens for the following reasons:
• White cabinets (as long as they aren't too ornate and embellished) and paint are light and uplifting and can make even the smallest kitchens appear spacious.
• White kitchens are the perfect stage in which to draw attention to a kitchen's details: beautiful fixtures, innovative lighting, sumptuous rugs, funky knobs and handles--all of which can be easily updated as needed.
• All colors and textures look good with white. If you want to go nuts with color, get a red fridge, bright blue pendant lamps, or a dramatic modern rug.
• Simple, minimalist white cabinets (like the 1979 ones in my childhood home and the 1985 ones in my current home) really don’t look dated. They just look vaguely foreign or high-tech.
• White walls can easily be painted over down the road.
• White tiles with off-white grout may not remain super trendy but they do have historical precedence (especially subway tiles). Adding a bold backsplash can spice up uniformly white tiling should you find it too monochromatic.
• In the words of Barbara Sallick: “All food looks really beautiful in a white kitchen. So do all those pots and accessories."

Meanwhile, look out for more wonderful insights from Waterworks' Barbara Sallick in future posts!

Images:
FIRST ROW
1 - 3 Piippa. Sleek, simple minimalist kitchens feel clean and pure and perpetually futuristic.
4 Elle Decor. This kitchen's white foundation makes the streak of bright blue tile look even more vibrant and dramatic.
5 Elle Decor.

SECOND ROW
6 Elle Decor. Funky accessories come to life in this white classic kitchen.
7 House Beautiful. A simple white kitchen serves as the backdrop for bursts of personality and originality that can easily be changed over time to adapt to evolving tastes.
8 House Beautiful.
9 House Beautiful. Many elements of this room are very trendy these days (modern Bertoia stools, industrial-style pendant lamps, stainless steel appliances) but the bones of the kitchen are nevertheless classic.
10 A Living Concept.
Hyper minimalist. Our kitchen in the 70s looked a bit like this (only much smaller and less fancy).

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